EBook Success {Redefined}

FYI: This post was written 2 months ago, and scheduled last week–all before my book suddenly got a lot of attention from the real food community this week! Even as the Lord is suddenly blessing sales of my book, I still believe that His definition of success has nothing to do with numbers, so this post is not and will never be ‘out of date’…

The biggest question I faced as I timidly stepped into the waters of self-publishing was, “Can I do this successfully?” I didn’t want all my efforts to end shy of the goal. But what was the goal? What defines a successful eBook?

In the beginning my understanding of an ebook’s success came down to one thing: going viral. That seemed to be the goal of all the marketing advice I’d read. A viral book meant money and fame, which would make it worth my effort and mark my book as a success.

Getting my book to ‘go viral’ proved to be an elusive goal. Despite my best efforts and many satisfied customers, sales never grew to the spree I thought would confirm success. Eventually I had to face the sales figures and ask myself the hard question: Had I failed, or was my book a success after all? Too often, I felt I had failed.

But finally, over a year after release, I gained some perspective. I looked back on the work I had done and the results and I knew the truth: my book was a success all along. What changed my perspective?

I finally understood that eBook success is not defined by numbers and sales, but by one word:

Impact.

Maybe only a few hundred people have bought my book, but those few have repeatedly written to tell me how my book blessed them, taught them a new recipe their family loves, and helped them realize they really could feed their families well with limited time.

Two definitions of success…

The world defines success by numbers and fame, but in the Kingdom of God, we are called to serve ‘the least of these’. In blogging terms, I think that means we need to be willing to do the work–to write words that encourage and build up–even if only one person reads them.

That’s a challenging prospect. My pride doesn’t really appreciate work that doesn’t bring me fame. There’s no fame in writing an eBook that only sells a hundred copies.  But if we embrace humble servanthood, God will allow us to see our efforts and impact from His perspective.

The Lord helped me to see that one changed life—one family making more nutritious choices and enjoying better health because of my words—was enough to call my book a success.

Yes, I’ve made money, too. Not enough for my man to quit his day job, mind you, but enough to pay for my web hosting, a transfer to wordpress, and a little extra to help make ends meet around here. But it’s not about the money. The money is gravy. The real worth of my effort is in the impact my book has had in a handful of people’s lives, including my own.

Maybe your dream book isn’t the next popular how-to guide. Maybe you doubt you could make money, or that the heart-story you compose in your bed at night could change any body’s lives.

But if I could lean in and whisper a piece of truth that’s very dear to me, I would tell you this:

If the words you write touch another’s heart, giving them even a slight adjustment in perspective, it is like when one changes direction by one degree on a compass. The change doesn’t seem big with that first step, but in 30 miles your course will have taken you into a different county. One word that lightens or brightens your reader’s heart can seem small in the moment, but know this: ten years from now that reader could have more joy and walk more closely with their Savior because of your willingness to have even a ‘small’ impact.

So here’s to you, sister, writer, friend: Here’s to YOUR successful eBook. May God give grace. wisdom, insight and the time to write the words He’s put on your heart. And may you be just brave enough to launch them, just strong enough to ask for help, and just tall enough to catch a glimpse of what God can do with a heart willing to serve.

I am SO delighted by you, the women who have joined me here as I’ve shared my self-publishing journey. Your comments and questions have inspired me and your ideas for your own books have excited me. This series is officially complete with this post, but I assure you, the conversation isn’t over. I desire to continue to encourage you in your pursuits! I plan to interview some of the eBook authors I’m delighted to know personally and share our conversations about the process of writing and publishing in upcoming posts. I hope you will enjoy–and maybe one of these days you’ll be publishing your own book, and I’ll be interviewing you! Keep in touch,

–Trina

All posts in this series can be found under the tag: Path to Publishing

Marketing, Part 2 {Pratical tips for smaller platforms}

I’m no expert on marketing and I didn’t have a big enough platform for my book to go viral. But my book has enjoyed a measure of success and continues to sell 1 1/2 years after its first release. Here are my 3 best marketing strategies…

Friends

As I said in my post on timing your launch, I didn’t have a very big platform to rely on when I planned my release. But I did have a few online friends who were willing to read the book pre-release and write up reviews for me. These I posted on my sales page so viewers could see that I wasn’t the only one who thought my book was amazing. :)

When I re-launched a year later with a new cover, my network had grown, including the 12 wonderful women I connected with in my mastermind group. Many of them committed to do a review on their blog around the time of my re-launch, and connected me to some of their readers and bloggy friends who they thought would be interested.

In the six weeks following my re-launch there were several dozen reviews and giveaways featuring my book, all of which were written by friends or friends of friends. This circle of online connections is often referred to as a tribe, and in my experience, tribes are effective, even when they’re small. (<–Tweet this if you’ve experienced the same!) Your tribe is your best friend in marketing.

Free

I’ll betcha I’ve given away as many of copies of the PDF version of the book as I’ve sold. My policy from the beginning was “If you’re willing to talk about my book, you get your copy for free”. Some would consider this too generous, but it was my compromise for not taking the experts advice to prepare my platform by giving away my first product for free to everyone. Even if someone didn’t have a blog on which to post a review, I told them they could tell friends IRL or post about it on their facebook page.

This has been one of the best aspects of creating an ebook—the opportunity the bless people with a free resource. Because it literally costs me nothing to give away a PDF file (takes 1 minute to log into Ejunkie and send the free download link), I’ve given it away over and over and over. Each time has been an opportunity to invest in people I care about, and edge my book further and further outside of my own reach.

As far as the type of reviewer you want, size does not matter as much as spirit. The best reviews are when someone shares their story, and how the book intersected with their journey (in my case, people sharing their personal real food journey and how my book helped them along). If the reader identifies with something in the reviewer’s story, they may feel the book could be the next chapter in their own journey. So just ask your reviewers to tell their story. Then thank them profusely.

These were a few of my favorite ‘my story’ type reviews:

  • Cole –was so excited about the recipes in the book, she was posting photos on instagram of her homemade hamburger buns!
  • Gretchen–found success in areas of homemaking (like homemade bread!) that she’d previously been discouraged in.
  • Amy–told how the book got her back on track after a set back on her real food journey

These were not *huge* blogs, but their personal stories were so intriguing, their posts actually resulted in as many sales as some of the larger blogs who have featured me.

Follow-Up

Having a terrific launch is great because the momentum will guarantee continued sales even when you don’t have time to market. But if you’re virtually platform-less like I was at first launch, then you will have to look at your marketing strategy as an on-going project–a part-time job, if you will.

There are lots of little ways to keep your book in the public eye:

  • Keep on asking for reviews.It’s not too hard to send out a few emails a week to prospective bloggers who may be interested in sharing your book with their readers. You can also tweet or facebook asking for people willing to review your book. Remind them review copies are free!
  • Create a facebook page, and keep it current.Keep in mind that Facebook is image-driven: statuses that contain images get the most attention. This works great for a promoting a cook book ‘cause I simply post a photo of what I’m cooking nearly every day, and when my fans like or comment it, their friends notice, and often come by to see what’s going on. If your topic isn’t image related to begin with, you could create images with quotes from the book (try picmonkey for this). You can also share links when a review goes live, or post discussion questions.
  • Continue to look for ways to invest in your readers. Regularly post quality content that corresponds with your book–for me that involves sharing new recipes as I incorporating them into my routine. Give stuff away–I made a printable from a section of the book “Ten Tips For Fighting Kitchen Combat Fatigue” and I give it away to anyone who subscribes to my newsletter (want yours?). Be willing to answer emails and give your readers one-on-one time. People love to share when they find something great. Keep being great and your audience will grow through word-of-mouth, bringing you new customers every day.

Through my marketing journey, I’ve found that serving and generosity opened more doors for me and my book than traditional marketing (such as running ads or paying an agent) and it has filled the experience with joy and satisfaction.

Do you have marketing advice to add? What strategies do you plan to employ when you launch your book?  Would you like a free copy of my book? *wink*

This post is 8th in a series detailing my self-publishing story! All posts in the series can be found via this tag: Path to Publishing.

Marketing Theories {And what’s worked for me} Part One

The upside to self publishing is that you retain all rights to your book and the majority of the profits. You have the final word in every decision and maintain complete control of your content at every stage.

You may ask, is there even a downside?

Well, once you publish, the work’s not done. Now you have to market your book–and here’s where many writers run back into their writing closets and regret ever thinking they could do this on their own.

I’ll admit: marketing is work. Despite the great people I’ve gotten to know in the process and the satisfaction that comes from DYI-ing, I have often been stressed by the pressure of marketing my own book. That is, until earlier this year when I had an epiphany regarding my marketing approach…

See, I’d always thought there were two different approaches one could take when marketing a product: Self-Promotion or Trusting God For Sales.

For the first year, I jumped back and forth between the two strategies: one month I’d work real hard, getting reviews and promoting the book on social media, then I’d burn out and relax into the “I’m-just-gonna-trust-God-to-market-my-book” method. I’d get back to work when fear for provision motivated me to see if the book could finally become a significant source of income for us. I was stressed when I was actively promoting the book because I felt the whole success of my efforts rested on me. And I was stressed when I sat back and ‘gave it to God’ because I felt I should at least be doing something–I felt like I was being a poor steward of the resource He’d enabled me to create.

And that’s when my breakthrough came–when I finally realized the whole thing was about stewardship. Just as one would manage a piece of property to help it produce well, my book was a resource to be stewarded. There was work to be done, but God had been in the creation process–I needed to realize He could be part of my marketing team, too. It was something we could do together.

Since then, my new strategy involves doing what I can to promote the book with the time and means at my disposal. And when I run out of time, or something I try seems to have poor results, I remember that God and me are a team on this thing. I choose to trust Him. I’ve learned I can market my book stress-free when I engage in wise promotion tactics, while simultaneously leaving the results to Him. I can’t tell you how delightful it is to team up with God on marketing.

You need to approach this step of the process just as you have the writing, editing, formatting, and cover design—with prayer. With trust. With diligence. With passion. And remember you’re not in this alone.

Don’t consider yourself the marketing type? Don’t worry—marketing is all about relationships anymore. Do you have friends? Do they have friends? Then you’re set! Lots of practical marketing tips for the non-salesman and the smaller blogger next week!

Other Posts in This Series:
Cover Story {The God Factor in Self-Publishing}

Do You Have an eBook in You? {Psst! I think so!}

Editing and Formatting an eBook {What NOT to do!}

Don’t DIY By Yourself {It takes a community to publish an eBook}

7 Steps to DIY eBook Cover Design {The Art of First Impressions}

All posts in the series can be found via this tag: Path to Publishing. Share it and encourage another writer friend! :)

A Time to Launch {Is My Platform Too Small?}

Timing is a very important factor to consider when self-publishing and marketing a book. All the experts say that you should wait to launch a book until you have a well-established platform. If you don’t have a large and loyal readership who will be excited to spread the word about your book, then you should probably give away your first book, which will help get your name out there and grow your platform.

Sarah Mae, Michael Hyatt, and Jeff Goins have all had excellent success with their eBooks because they each had well-established platforms when they launched. Each of their recent books has enjoyed time high on Best Seller lists, and they sold thousands of copies within the first week of release. Their advice on how and when to launch a book is priceless because it obviously works

Will small work?

But a year and half ago, there was not as much information on how and when to launch a book, and I was guessing and taking my chances. I’d found enough information to know that my platform was too small for my book to go viral. But I was impatient. And curious. I really wanted to know if something I created could stand on its own two feet with out the crutch of ‘free’—would my readers, few as they were, actually buy something from me? And was the book good enough that strangers with no relational ties to me even pick it up?

Apparently so.

Despite my small platform, my book has done well. Friends, readers, and strangers alike have raved about what a resource the book is, the yummy food their families have enjoyed, and even how readable and enjoyable my writing style is. Their enthusiasm has spread so that a year and a half later, even when I’m not actively marketing the book, I continue to sell copies every week.

Now, Later, or Free?

I still think free is a great way to prime your market, and my advice would be, if you have time and energy, try giving something away first to broaden your readership. I have given away many books post-launch and can definitely attest to the fruit of being generous.

But if you feel now is the time to launch your book, despite a small platform, I want to encourage you that you can still enjoy measured success if you are indeed marketing a quality product. It will be slow going, but many classics started out without much fanfare. There’s a lot you can do after release to get your book in the public eye. I’ll be talking more about how I employed a long-range marketing strategy with my book in a following post.

What’s your Goal?

One also has to take into account the goal of much of the book-launching advice out there—to hit the best seller lists and make significant money quickly. If that is not the primary goal of your ebook project, I think you are free to release your book whenever the time feels right to you. Profit was on my list of hopeful outcomes,  but impact to friends and readers I already had relationship with was the foremost goal in my mind as I wrote my book.

If you are, indeed, producing a book because your goal is to create significant provision for yourself, then you should take the experts advice much more seriously than I did. For nitty-gritty advice on building a platform and preparing to launch a book, I can’t recommend the book “Platform” loudly enough. Michael Hyatt had created a classic manual for anybody ‘with something to say or something to sell’. I will be following much of his advice for my future projects. I’ve also gleaned a lot from Sarah Mae’s “How to Market and Sell an Ebook” and Jeff Goins newsletters in which he’s shared the behind the scenes of his latest successful ebook, “You Are a Writer”. (You get access to archives of the newsletter once you subscribe.)

Whether you launch now or later, have big platform or are just getting started blogging, your book can be a success. How do I know? Because I’ve discovered the true definition of a successful eBook, and it’s attainable even for smaller bloggers. I can’t wait to share it with you in the final post of this series. Stay tuned!

Have you worried your platform is too small? Do you have a strategy for growth? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on when you’d launch a book and why. Oh, and share your blog in the comments so we can get to know you–a quick way you can grow your platform today! ;)

Other Posts in This Series:
Cover Story {The God Factor in Self-Publishing}

Do You Have an eBook in You? {Psst! I think so!}

Editing and Formatting an eBook {What NOT to do!}

Don’t DIY By Yourself {It takes a community to publish an eBook}

7 Steps to DIY eBook Cover Design {The Art of First Impressions}

All posts in the series can be found via this tag: Path to Publishing. Share it and encourage another writer friend! :)

P.S. this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of the links I took the time to provide for you, I earn a percentage of the sales, at no extra cost to you. So, thanks!

7 Steps to DIY eBook Cover Design {The Art of First Impressions}

(My apologies if you’re getting a little tired of me posting nothing but ebook advice–I haven’t had a lot of time to blog much else this month! For those of you missing my traditional content, don’t miss my newsletter this month! I’m just wrapping it up and it’s gonna be delish. Sign up for the newsletter right in my sidebar. Don’t miss it, ’cause I have no idea how to make the archives accessible to late-comers! LOL)

No matter how good your content is, people still judge a book by it’s cover—especially in the online world. Your cover is your first–and often your only–chance to catch the eye of your audience and make a good impression.

The experts say, if you put money anywhere in your eBook, this is where you should hire an expert.

I’m not arguing with that. Yet if you…

  • have some degree of capability with a photo editing software, and
  • an eye for good design when you see it,

…there’s no reason you can’t try this on your own. Here’s how we did it…

Step #1 Analyze the Competition

I actually had no clue where to begin when up-grading my ebook cover, until a thoughtful friend sent me links to dozens of cookbooks she thought had great covers.

I totally recommend checking out the best seller list on Amazon in your book’s category to see see what’s new and popular.

When a cover caught my eye (or even convinced me to buy!) I asked myself why it worked. Was it the subtitle? The bright colors in the graphic? A clear but unique font?

Step #2 Make a List

After viewing dozens of cook book covers, I actually had a list of elements I’d seen that I liked and wanted to incorporate into my own cover:

  • White Space—I wanted the photo I used to have areas (background or foreground or both) that were out of focus so I’d be able to put my title right on top of my graphic.
  • Color—I was leaning toward a bold use of color, as bright colors were the most memorable to me in the books I was browsing.
  • Layers—I liked the covers that had several layers—words layered over pictures, subtitles layered over ‘skins’ and graphics that overlapped. I felt that layers really drew me in and gave a richer and more professional impression.

Your list of ‘must haves’ may be different, but I’ll venture to say this list is a great starting point.

Step #3 Go Shopping

Next we had to find an image or graphic for our cover. We spent a lot of time browsing stock photo sites, and actually did a mock up with a photo we bought (for $10), only to find out it had already been used as an ebook cover! We realized we wanted to go with a privately owned photo, and even considered a kitchen themed-photo shoot with a photographer friend. That’s when God stepped in and provided the perfect photo, despite my non-existent photography skills.

If you have trouble finding an image, scan the fb pages of friends who love to take photos, or do a contest on your blog, asking for submissions! Just keep in mind your list of what you’re looking for in a photo, so you’ll know it when you see it.

When I snapped the photo of the blueberry pancakes cooking on my griddle, I immediately recognized its potential to fulfill my wish-list. It had subtle colors that would compliment bold font shades and plenty of ‘white space’ for my text. The depth of the photo also drew me in and would support several layers of design.

Step #5 Choose Your Tools

My husband used Adobe Photoshop to create my ebook cover. If you want to try a free photo editing software that’s made for tech-dummies like me, do not underestimate the power of picmonkey. I created the graphic for this series all by myself on picmonkey.  I think it’s pretty cute, don’t you?

Step #6 Bring It All Together

Your cover is usually comprised of Title, Subtitle, Author Name (you!), and a Graphic that supports and enhances your subject matter. When we sat down to create our cover, we made decisions on how to bring these elements together based on:

  • Balance—there is actually weight in design, and you must aim for balance between the various elements on your cover.
    Weigh your cover from side to side and top to bottom. If your title font is heavy, and your first letter a bold and flourished capital, that weighs down the left side of your cover. Even things out by arranging your subtitle or the focal point of your graphic toward the right side of the cover. If you’re title’s up top, and your graphic down below, make sure they have equal weight. Even if you take the easy way out and center all your text, your graphic itself may throw you off balance.
    Things that add weight are bold color (especially darker tones), bold fonts, or big images. Lighter elements include subtle colors, fine-lined fonts, and small pictures.
  • Contrast—From my floral design days, I know that contrast is essential in a good arrangement. Pay attention to the texture of each element you add to your design. If your graphic has a busy texture or bright colors, choose a smooth, bold font in a neutral color. It’s fine to use several different fonts on your cover, as long as they don’t compete. These, too, should contrast. Is your title big and flourishy? let your subtitle contrast by being small and tidy. And let your name be an even quieter font.
  • Viewing it Small—with ebooks, your customer’s first impression is usually a small impression—in a sidebar ad or the shelf of an online-book store. Your cover must look good and be readable at 120 pixels wide. If your viewer can’t even see what your book is about ‘cause they can’t read your subtitle, they will often move on without a second glance. Think small!

Step #7 Take a Vote

I know, I know–I harp on this a lot! (Don’t DIY by Yourself!) But you really do need a few second opinions for this stage! Once you get a design that you think might float, send it to your mastermind group or a few close friends you trust for unbiased opinions. Ask for their impressions and input. Sometimes it’s tricky discerning between personal preference and good advice, but if two or three of your friends say the same thing (‘”you need a better subtitle” or “the color seems a bit off”) you should be willing to make changes.

You can also put a few different mock-ups on your blog or facebook page to ask for votes. Your readers will LOVE getting in on the project with you!

In the end, if you like it, and your friends don’t see any major flaws, go for it. Upload that baby and put a face on all your hard work!

Now it’s time to ship…Or is it? Next we’ll discuss the question, “How big must my platform be before I can successfully launch an eBook?”

What about you? Is this the one part of your book you’ll probably delegate, or have my tips given you courage that this could be in your strength zone after all? Oh, and how’s the writing going? I’ve been praying for each of you… ;)

Don’t DIY by Yourself {It takes a community to publish an eBook}

My whole goal in writing this series is to encourage you that even if you have a {smaller} platform or are a novice marketer, you CAN make your self-publishing dreams a reality.

But doing it yourself does not mean you should do it alone.

I could never have written much less published my eBook with out the support of family, friends, blog readers, and my mastermind group. Some may like the idea of ‘surprising’ their audience with the finished product, but sometimes that is a well-disguised form of pride. (I’m not judging anyone, just revealing my own heart’s weaknesses!) God gives grace to the humble, and you will enjoy the process and have a better chance at success if you aren’t afraid to ask for help.

  • Tell your friends you’re working on a special project and would appreciate prayers.
  • Ask your blog readers for opinions on title, subtitle, and additional content.
  • Utilize a mastermind group for decisions about design and help with marketing.
  • Ask other bloggers to help promote your book in exchange for a free copy.

My book could never have done as well as it has without my mastermind group. They were invaluable to me in the upgrade and re-launch process. They cheered me on, prayed for me, gave valuable insight, and many of them did reviews when the book relaunched.

{Real Life Peek Behind the Scenes}
When we were working on a new cover, we initially bought a stock photo to use and when I uploaded the comp to show my mastermind group, two or three of them recognized the same photo from an eBook that had come out a year earlier. Our covers would have been so similar, I’d have completely lost the element of originality. As sad as I was to scrap that one, I was soooo glad my group had caught it before I uploaded it to my website!

If you, as an intentional blogger and hopeful, someday-author do not yet have a mastermind group, you need to stop everything and get that going right now. Not sure where to start? These two posts have some great inspiration and practical how-to:

You don’t have to have a huge tribe to feel the benefit of community. (<–Tweet this!) You just have to be real and brave enough to ask for help from those you already call friends.

And Now It’s Time to Write…

Next week we’re gonna jump ahead to talk about editing your manuscript. What? You don’t have one yet? Well, a week should give you plenty of time.

I’m kidding.

But I’m serious that it’s time to write, and the writing part is up to you. (I already wrote my book. It’s your turn, now!) If God’s given you a story to share, and you feel now is the time to put it into an eBook, then, as Nike says, “Just Do It”.

To learn how I fit writing an ebook in between three children, cooking all my food from scratch, and retaining some semblance of a social life, you may enjoy this post. But don’t let reading my words keep you from writing yours!

Now go write. Oh, and start your own mastermind group.

Off you go.

Shoo.

(Pardon me. I may have been speaking with too many stray dogs lately)

 

Other Posts in This Series:
Cover Story {The God Factor in Self-Publishing}
Do You Have an eBook in You? {Psst! I think so!}

All posts in the series can be found via this tag: Path to Publishing. Share it and encourage another writer friend! :)

Editing and Formatting an Ebook {What NOT to Do}

Once you’ve written your book, you need to edit and format it. This was where I think we made the most mistakes with my book. We fixed the mistakes so you don’t see them, but doing it right the first time would have saved us a lot of headaches.

Here’s 4 things I’d suggest to smooth out the editing process…

1. Edit BEFORE you format.

Please! You don’t want to go to all the trouble to format your book for the various forms in which you will sell it (PDF, Kindle, Nook, or POD) and then find a typo. Or a half dozen typos. Because then you have to go fix the same misspelled word in each of the different copies of the book you’ve created. Trust me on this. It’s an insanity-inducing process. Edit it right the first time, before you format.

2. Get yourself a good editor.

To do editing right, you need a nit-picky grammarian who can spot a misplaced comma from a mile away. You may not mind the occasional typo in your blog posts, but people should and do expect more of a book they’ve paid money for, and an over-abundance of typos can really lower people’s value of your work.

Where do you find an editor?
Well, you can hire one. But I find there are individuals out there that find such pleasure in righting grammatical errors, they would pay YOU to get their hands on your un-edited manuscript! You know that blog reader who politely emails you whenever you misspell ‘their’? She’s the one! Email her and ask her if she’d like to help you with your book in exchange for one or maybe a couple of copies of the finished product. Let her go over your work with her God-given eye for details.

Even if you consider yourself are the local deputy of the grammar police, it’s always helpful to have another set of eyes. Everyone can benefit from an editor.

3. Simplify your format.

There’s two levels of formatting:

  1. Formatting a blog post or word document, getting the paragraphs, bullet points and headings just right.
  2. Formatting your PDF file for eReaders (Kindle, Nook, etc).

I’m talking about the first one here. If you do the first one well, it will make the second level of formatting easier.

I had not seen the inside of too many ebooks when I formatted my own, or I would have realized the difference in formatting between a traditional book and a electronic book. I formatted mine similar to several of my favorite traditionally published cookbooks – lots of different types of paragraphs and sidebars full of juicy tidbits. It looks great when you print it out and bind it. But it was time consuming to format and a pain in the neck when we prepared the file for eReaders!

Most ebooks I’ve seen lately have fairly simple formatting compared to paper books. Many are even laid out horizontally on the page, which makes for easier viewing on a computer screen. In future projects I’m going to simplify my design and format with the goal of readability and ease of navigation over what it looks like in print.

In Ebooks as in so many areas, Simplicity is Elegance.

4. Hire out what you can’t handle yourself.

It’s ok to get help. I was blessed that between my husband and gifted friends in my online community we were able to DIY almost every aspect of the publishing process. But there’s no shame in hiring help. Each aspect of publishing, from editing to formatting to cover design to marketing can be hired out. Even with a small launch and minimal success, it’s not hard to make back that couple hundred dollars with the first few months of sales. Consider it as you would any investment. Your time may be more valuable elsewhere.

{Real Life Peek Behind the Scenes}
I totally ran into a brick wall when I tried to make a video to help promote my book. I kept clamming up in front of the camera, and my video editing skills were not capable of making anything presentable out of the scraps I’d managed to tape. Thankfully, my new friend Jendi had the skills I didn’t, and I had something she wanted, so we actually bartered.

A Gown for the Videographer

I sewed her a beautiful Titanic-style gown she’d been dreaming of, and she made me this video, which I loved so much, I’m probably responsible for half the hits it has on YouTube:

Don’t forget the bartering option!

This whole series is a behind-the-scenes look at one smaller blogger’s DIY approach to successfully publishing and marketing her first ebook. If you have enjoyed this series, or know of someone who could use the encouragement, would you share this post? Here’s the perfect tweet—> “Tips for #DIY eBook Publishing” <–just click it to tweet it!

Next week we’re gonna talk about Cover Design!

Other Posts in This Series:
Cover Story {The God Factor in Self-Publishing}
Do You Have an eBook in You? {Psst! I think so!
Don’t DIY by Yourself {It Takes a Community to Publish an eBook}

All posts in the series can be found and shared via this tag: Path to Publishing.

How’s your manuscript going? Are you in a season to create? Tell me—are you loving the process or resenting it? Is your current project a privilege or a burden? I have a few of each. I shelve the ones that feel burdensome, believing that’s a sign they’re for another season. What about you?

Do You Have an eBook in You? {Psst! I think so!}

The whole reason I’m writing this series is because I’m certain there are a lot of books not being written or stories not being told because their authors:

  1. are intimidated by the publishing process
  2. feel like their story doesn’t matter ‘enough’, or,
  3. they don’t think they have the time

I was a poster child for all three excuses, but I did it anyway. So I’m here to coerce–oops, did I say that out loud? I meanencourage you.

In this series, I’m going to tell you how you can publish an eBook even if you’re a total non-geek like me. I’m going to explain that you don’t need to worry about whether you’re the salesman type, because sales are all about relationship anymore.{ Have you got friends? Do they have friends? Good, then you’re set.} I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned about cover design so you can DIY. And I’m going to define what is a successful eBook so you can see just how close you are to the awesome experience of publishing your own successful book.

But none of that will do you any good unless I can convince you that you have a story that’s worth the effort.

And maybe I can’t do that–maybe the Holy Spirit is the only one who can speak to your spirit and give you the eyes to see the unique beauty of the path He’s led you on. I pray that He does, because I KNOW you have a story.

Writer/bloggers all over (from Lisa-Jo to Jeff Goins) are trying to convince us that we all have a story worth telling. Why? Not because they will make money, get famous, or increase hits traffic to their blog. But because they were brave enough to stand up and tell their story, and it has made all the difference, for them and for the people God has used their story to impact.

Maybe you still feel your story is too small or not worth the effort. Maybe my friend Gretchen’s words can convince you otherwise…

Sometimes, writing our story is the best way to focus on the good memories.  Other times, writing out our story is the only way to process the hard times.

Sometimes, our own story hurts so much to write that we need to lose ourselves in another’s story for a while.

Sometimes, reading another’s story brings our own back into perspective.

Will you do that for me? Allow me to lose myself in your story to be refreshed and gain perspective on my own journey?

Practical Tips for eBook Content:

‘Best of Posts’ from your blog. This is like a gift to your readers as it puts all your best stuff in one place, for them to savor and recommend to friends. Gypsy Mamma just did this, and I love her for it.

A Series from your blog. Have you written a popular how-to, motivational, or devotional series? Or a serial story or memoir? It can get a little tricky navigating through a long series on someone’s blog, even if all the links are correct. Do your readers a favor by compiling content in one convenient download.

A Topic that’s too big for your blog. Do you have something on your heart that threatens to take over or doesn’t quite fit with your other blog content? Assign it the room it needs in an eBook. (This was one of the reasons for my eBook–I don’t consider myself a real food blogger, yet I had lots to share on that subject for a while. Now it’s all in a tidy package I can refer to without it dominating my content)

A Cookbook. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. :) If you regularly get asked for favorite family recipes, you might have a well-loved cookbook up your sleeve.

Your Story. Because story matters. I see stories everywhere I look, and long for them to be told…

  • That widowed mom of 4 boys? I just wanna know what gets her through a day.
  • My single friend, nearing 30, who exudes contentment? I want a peek into the beauty of her heart.
  • That couple who has strong relationships with all of their children, now in adulthood? Do tell!
  • You–that one whose strengths don’t seem like super powers, but who looks super human to me? I’m standin’ here in line.

You each have a story to tell, lesson to share, skill to teach, and an ebook is a perfect way to tell your story.

OK, here’s where I get a little demanding, ’cause I’m downright determined to encourage at least a few of you to take the plunge. I want to know what you would write about IF you wrote an eBook. Don’t worry–this is not a contract to publish, it’s just a brainstorming session. Share your idea/storyline/motivation/concept/dream in the comments. Doing so will encourage and validate the next reader, and the next, and the next, until we all begin to believe our story is worth sharing…

Other Posts in This Series:

Cover Story {The God Factor in Self-Publishing}

All posts in the series can be found via this tag: Path to Publishing. Share it and encourage another writer friend! :)

Cover Story {The God Factor in Self Publishing}

I ‘m starting my series on the process of publishing and marketing my first ebook with a story that, at first glance, has nothing to do with ebooks. But that’s just to show you how intertwined the process was with every day life, and—with God. He was a part of the entire process, to the point where I could almost say “God was my publisher.”

ebook series

 

I was scrubbing dishes with the energy that only comes from furry. I had never been this angry at my man before.

{I was pretty angry at myself, too. Here I am with the best man God ever gave a girl, and I have the ingratitude to complain?}

It had to do with the griddle on my back porch. It had sat there for two years, after using it for a birthday party. But we hadn’t used it since, and I had become increasingly annoyed at how much space it was taking up on my precious porch. Today Jeremy had finally agreed that we could move it!

I had opened the barn doors and was clearing a path on the porch when he said,

“I don’t want to put it in the barn.”

We’d been over this. I thought the barn was the ideal place to store an un-used piece of equipment. But Jeremy had objected. I had yet to hear a good reason NOT to put it in the barn, so I was moving ahead with what made sense to me. But here he was again, putting a wrench in my plans for a clean porch. And he wouldn’t explain why.

That’s when I blew up.

I let off about enough steam to de-wrinkle a cathedral-length silk wedding gown, and I stomped inside to wash dishes.

I knew I was wrong. But I was so angry, I didn’t even want to think about making up any time in the next 3 years. So I prayed what I call the Want-to-Want-to Prayer. Only, in this case, I had to add a few more ‘want to’s’:

“Lord, help me to want to want to want to want to want to make this right.”

Just like that, the situation was infused with His Spirit.

I suddenly felt the grace to cool down, humble myself, ask my husband’s forgiveness, and be willing to calmly discuss a solution to The Griddle Problem. As I walked out to the porch, I noticed a space in my mudroom that, while not ideal, did seem like a better place for The Griddle than my precious porch. So, after apologizing, I quietly offered that as a compromise.

“I really want to put it somewhere we can use it,” Jeremy admitted.

{At last! We were communicating! All it took, apparently, was me being willing to quit ranting and simply listen. Imagine that.}

But he headed into my kitchen. (you’re catching all the possessive pronouns here, yes? They indicate ownership issues.) I followed him. He was eyeing the space the portable dishwasher was living in. He pulled out his tape measure.

“Oh, God, no!” I thought. “He wants to put That Thing in my kitchen! You have got to be kidding.”

Oh, but he wasn’t.

Neither was God, for He gave me the grace to watch quietly while Jeremy measured to see if The Griddle would fit alongside my stove with a little rearranging. I tried to have an open mind, but that griddle was just so ugly!

“Just think how great it would be for frying pancakes!” Jeremy encouraged me.

He had a point. My propane stove has this issue that even the smallest burner at the lowest setting will boil water—frying pancakes is always a smoky affair involving turning the burners off and on to regulate the heat. A small part of me began wondering if this might be a good idea after all.

Two days later Jeremy came back from work with a beautiful metal frame and heat shield custom-made to house The Griddle. Then he sand blasted it till it was shiny, installed it in my kitchen, taught me how to turn it on, and bought me a gorgeous stainless-steel spatula to use on it. Also, while he was in a rearranging, upgrading mode, he installed 12 inch. of counter I’d been begging for since we moved in—providing a home for my mixer and much-needed surface next to my stove.

I only had to cook on it once for our friendship to be sealed for life. The Griddle has been a wonderful addition to my our kitchen. Jeremy loves cooking on it and uses it as much as I do. It’s an absolute dream for cooking pancakes.

In fact, that’s what I was doing one morning as I worried again what to do about the cover for my ebook. I’d gotten advice from an expert that if I really wanted to market my book effectively, I should look into upgrading the cover. We’d looked into hiring someone, but Jeremy thought we could probably do it ourselves. We just needed a good photo.

The blueberry pancakes looked so beautiful steaming away, I was inspired to grab Jeremy’s camera (it’s the nice one he uses for weddings and I don’t know how to do anything but press the button that takes a picture.) The lighting was just right, and God must have been guiding my hands, because I leaned back and snapped a perfect shot that became the new cover for my book.

As I continue this series, I’ll share what we’ve learned about what makes a great cover design, and how we got from this

RFF_1x2sm

to this…

Cover-06

Have you ever dreamed of publishing a book? What’s kept you from it? I hope this series will inspire and give you practical encouragement to help make your dream a reality. This series will post on Tuesdays for the next two months, and next week we’re going to explore the question, “Do You Have an eBook in You?”

Do you recognize the “Want-To Want-To Prayer”? Have you ever tried it? Look out…it works every time…

P.S. The dishwasher died the week after we installed the griddle, so that solved the problem of where to put the dishwasher!